A Stronger National Voice for Hoosier Bankers

After almost a quarter of a century of running a statewide bank trade association in Indiana, I am pleased that the Indiana banking community will finally have a stronger voice on banking legislation in Washington, DC. When I started in bank trade association work nearly 24 years ago, no Indiana legislators were serving on U.S. banking committees, in either the House or the Senate.* Then, a few years into my tenure, Rep. Julia Carson was appointed to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services. Rep. Carson did a good job of representing Indiana and soliciting the opinions of Indiana bankers on issues pending before the committee. The committee also had jurisdiction over housing issues, and Julia candidly reported that her interest in serving on the committee had much more to do with housing issues than with banking. I recall sharing with her that I appreciated her support of banking, and commented that she almost always had voted with our interests. She responded with one word: “Really?” She may have been surprised that her banking record was pro-industry, given that she represented inner-city Indianapolis, and that her passion was for housing issues. Regardless, she was always helpful.

Following Julia Carson’s untimely death, her grandson, André Carson, won the special election to replace her, and he has held the seat ever since. In honor of his late grandmother, André asked to be on the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, where he served for several years. Recently, at the beginning of this congressional session, Rep. Carson asked to be moved to another committee. Perhaps he determined that his grandmother’s passion may not coincide with his own. I respect Rep. Carson, both for his decision to serve on the House banking committee and for his decision to move to another committee. At the same time that Carson served, Rep. Joe Donnelly was elected in northern Indiana and was appointed to the same committee. Thus Indiana had gone from no representation on the House banking committee to having two within a fairly short span of time. Even better, during this same period, Sen. Evan Bayh was appointed to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs. Suddenly Indiana had three legislators serving on national banking committees. However, during most of this time, Congress was overreacting to the financial crisis, and our opinions were not well received. Even so, Sen. Bayh was helpful to banking in a variety of situations, both prior to and during the financial crisis.

Sen. Bayh decided not to seek reelection, and we since have not had Indiana representation on the Senate banking committee. Rep. Donnelly successfully ran for the Senate, but was not appointed to the committee. However Rep. Marlin Stutzman was elected to Congress and has been appointed to the House banking committee. We are grateful that Rep. Stutzman has been supportive of the banking industry.

Last week Indiana Rep. Luke Messer was appointed to the House banking committee to fill an open seat. Messer has long supported business and banking, and we are pleased to have him join Stutzman on the House banking committee. Both Stutzman and Messer have shown interest in stemming some of the overreaction to the financial crisis by reducing the heavy regulatory burden cast upon banking. The Indiana Bankers Association appreciates the efforts of these two talented young congressmen. We will now be in a much stronger position to support the efforts of the American Bankers Association and Independent Community Bankers of America  — our partners in Washington, DC — as we work collectively to reduce the onslaught of banking regulations.

This is truly a moment in history, affording bankers from the Hoosier state a big voice in the national political agenda. IBA is proud to lead this effort, and we look forward to the support of the Indiana banking community.

*The formal name of the House banking committee is the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, and the Senate banking committee is the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs.

S. Joe DeHaven

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